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Fenster, Gigi
Writer's File

Gigi Fenster

Wellington - Te Whanganui-a-Tara
Fenster, Gigi
In brief
Dr Gigi Fenster is a novelist and short story writer based in Wellington. She holds a PhD from Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her first novel, The Intentions Book, was published in 2012 to glowing reviews, and her most recent novel, A Good Winter (Text Publishing, 2021) was shortlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Fenster has published a number of short stories in journals such as Sport, Hue & Cry and the International Literary Quarterly.


Fenster, Gigi is a writer and law lecturer. She received an MA in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University of Wellington in 2006 and a PhD from the same institution in 2018. She has published a number of short stories, including ‘Leaving Morris’ (Sport 37, Winter 2009), ‘Buttons’ (International Literary Quarterly, issue 16, 2011) and ‘Preview’ (Hue & Cry, issue 6, 2012).

Her first novel, The Intentions Book (Victoria University Press), was published in 2012, and was a finalist in the 2013 New Zealand Post Book Awards. The Intentions Book was also longlisted for the 2014 International IMPAC DUBLIN Literary Award, and longlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize.

Praise for this debut novel has been unanimous. In his launch of the book, writer Damien Wilkins called it ‘the best New Zealand novel in years’. Reviewer Susan Kornfield wrote in Takahe (2012), ‘This is a generous book, one that argues for truth and understanding, for taking people as they are, for reading their intent and helping them find their way. It is an impressive first novel that reveals its secrets slowly.’ Tim Jones wrote in Landfall (2012) that ‘The great strengths of this novel are the sophisticated, confident way in which it is told.’

Writing in the New Zealand Herald (May, 2012), reviewer Paula Green called Fenster ‘an author who is like a breath of fresh air’ and that she ‘has made a standout debut…The writing is tight, the protagonist memorable and the revelations stitched with a subtle finesse.’

Fenster was awarded the 2012 Todd New Writers’ Bursary to complete her next novel. 

Gigi teaches creative writing at Rimutaka Prison as a member of the Write Where You Are Collective, which received a Corrections Volunteer Award in 2016.

Her PhD thesis was published as a work of creative non-fiction under the title Feverish: A Memoir by Victoria University Press in 2018: it explored creativity, fever, and identity.

Fenster's third novel, psychological thriller A Good Winter, was a manuscript she had written in 2016 but abandoned. Encouraged by a friend, she submitted it for the 2020 Michael Gifkins Prize for an Unpublished Novel, and won. The prize included a contract for world rights with Australian publisher Text Publishing, as well as a NZ$10,000 advance. 

A Good Winter was published in September 2021 by Te Herenga Waka University Press and was one of four novels shortlisted for the Jann Medlicott Acorn Prize for Fiction in the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards.

March 2024
March 2024